Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Accepting the Unacceptable

I've been harping on this acceptance thing for a while now.

My last post was actually intended to be this one but I guess because of all of the mommy talk I felt the need share a successful story of acceptance rather than the unsuccessful story I am struggling with right now.

I mentioned the conversation Dee had with me a while back regarding the fact that I needed to accept the fact that living this healthy life style (i.e. exercise and good eating) was permanent (that is if I wanted to keep my new relatively fit body I was and am still working on).

At the time when he said 'You haven't accepted this yet. You are still looking for easier ways to get to where you want to be. There are no easier ways - ACCEPT IT!!'

Since then several weeks have passed by and I had felt that I was doing better with this 'acceptance' thing. I was doing my own research, buying ingredients I'd never heard tell of before, getting more than my prescribed amount of exercise, I was doing great ... I thought. Until I chatted with Dee last week...

He was all fired up it seemed as we talked, he once again announced that he was really scared that I was not ready to do this thing on my own. 'You still haven't accepted it. I am so worried you are going to fall back into your old ways. Look at how far you've come and the results you've gotten, you can't even see it! You need to realize that you've made progress and changed so much of your life and stop seeing yourself as not good enough!'.

I looked at him in disbelief. I didn't understand. I had made all of these changes this was true. He was right about me not really seeing the magnitude of my results, but what does that matter? I was expecting to have lost my dream goal weight in the first twelve weeks and because I didn't see that I missed the bigger picture of my muscle growth, my strength increase and my overall change in health and lifestyle. I have done well. But in my head I always add 'But I could've done better' and 'I still have a long way to go'. Apparently these aren't things a healthy minded individual should be saying.

I have begged Dee to tell me how to 'Accept', I've asked him over and over what I need to do differently, how I can change my thinking because I desperately want a healthy mind about this just as much as a healthy body.

He tells me he can't answer this for me, that I have to figure it out.

The other night in a text conversation when I had finally had a huge 'light bulb moment' and realized that Dee was right, I have yet to accept this new life and the progress I've made, Dee gave it to me straight. He said either you do the work or you don't. He told me that I could quit like most people or I could go after what I wanted, it was as simple as that.

His words stung but he was right.

Let me back track a bit to how I finally figured out I had not yet accepted the healthy life...

Wally and I were coming home from Persian love fest 2010 and I suggested we get a double chocolate chip frappuccino from Starbucks (because you know, that's clean eating). I was getting crazy about it, ready to hold him up with ... well I had nothing to threaten with but my bare hands, they would work.

I later suggested we go out for lunch on the way home as well. We did neither and by the time we were home I'd convinced myself that I didn't need to do either unjust act to my body and I was ready to make a 'clean' meal for our lunch.

Then I got struck out of no where by an acceptance lightning bolt.

I realized what Dee meant. He was right. I was/am still looking for ways to beat the system of the cheat meal (by, you know, making it a cheat day, or substituting my cheat drink for the other half of the cheat cake I was having for my cheat dessert). I am still looking for ways to cheat 'clean' living. And I was most certainly not accepting this whole system of eating right and exercise for life, evidenced by more 'one last whatevers' than any death row prisoner could ever dream of!

If every 'one last' snack, treat, or greasy meal I've had in the past couple of years was counted up there would likely be enough food to feed a small village for a year - of course they probably wouldn't live through the first six months as they would all have heart attacks and die, but you get the idea.

I am the queen of 'Tomorrow I'll start'. Even in my blog description I believe I state that 'Mondays are never far away'. If that doesn't spell denial I don't know what does.

Now I sit here with frustration mixed with determination to overcome this incredible life long battle filled with misbeliefs, disbeliefs, confusion and defeated spirit over and over again.

I am so fired up and so determined that I don't care if it takes me the rest of my life, I am tired of food controlling my happiness. I'm tired of food being the highlight of my day and the excitement of my tomorrow. I desperately want to be free. I think more than anything else I just want to be free from food guiding me around like I'm a lovesick puppy dog and giving me nothing but sadness in the end.

I think often my negative self image gets mixed up with my lust for food and how I use it to feed my soul. Yes I want to look good (and it's a challenge when my eyes seem to have blurred vision - figuratively speaking, I guess literally too). I want a healthy body too. But most of all I think I am desperately searching for a healthy soul free from the torment of food. Food is a gift to be enjoyed not to feel guilty over.

Wow. I feel pretty naked and ugly right now. I sound so terrible. But, at the same time this is truly me. These are my struggles, uglies and all. Sorry, should have warned you.

At the end of my text conversation with Dee the other day, in my duress I told him I just didn't want to be a 'fake wannabe'.

To which he replied 'You are as real as it gets'.

Sometimes I wonder if my 'realness' is a good thing. But like or not I am and I can only hope that through this openess to face my uglies I can grow into something more beautiful - inside and out.

Or perhaps just begin to believe what's already there.

By the way, I plan on indeed starting another blog to help me work this healthy stuff out. Truly it's for me but if you want a front row seat to me in the process of 'accepting' feel free to sit and watch ... or read. I'm sure it'll be entertaining.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Party Like I'm Persian - I want their confidence!

Wally and I got invited to go to my best friend from junior high/high school's wedding reception.

I was very excited to reconnect with her a couple of years ago at her last bridal shower. (She was supposed to get married before but she called it off a couple of weeks before the wedding). We've always had a sort of 'kindred' spirit thing. Though we have little in common now and have had very different life experiences since high school, there will always be a part of my heart that she will hold.

We both went through public school getting teased for our weight. I have no idea why she ever was because she really wasn't fat at all. Anyways she's someone that I went through all of those awkward uncomfortable formidable years with. We know far too many deep dark secrets about eachother to become enemies.

Candy got married in Cuba several weeks ago (and by the way still made it to our big party two weeks before their nuptials which was surprising and cool), and they were having a reception here in Canada to celebrate with all the friends and family that weren't there (and of course with some who were).

The location was a couple of hours away in a much larger city than where we live but Wally and I met on my way home from my retreat in the town we works in and zoomed off when he was done for the day.

It was a tense ride as it was rush hour on a Friday evening and things periodically got tense. Thus the reason for us not stretching our traveling muscles early in our marriage - we are getting better and better all of the time. We arrived with extra time to check into our hotel before going off to the party.

We arrived perfectly on time, along with many of the other Caucasian guests. After talking with Candy once we got there she informed us that many of the rest of the guests (who were Persian as Candy's new husband is from Iran) would likely arrive a couple of hours behind schedule.

Hmmmmm ... I hadn't thought of what the reception would be like with 50% of it not originating from well ... non Persia. (In the end I think 80% of the guests were Persian).

We mingled a bit with Candy's parents who had divorced since our friendship years and her little sister who I'll always remember sat on the toilet after dinner (as I pretty much lived there growing up) every night while eating her ice cream for dessert. We joked about that.

Wally and I didn't really know anyone. Candy's Nana had passed away a few months earlier (which was sad - she was so fun, one year she knitted me neon yellow mittens for Christmas and told me I'd better like them because she had to wear sunglasses while knitting them since they were so bright).

I wasn't terribly bothered by our loneliness as it gave us time to chat. I was lucky enough to get a few pictures with Candy before the crowd blew in. We chatted a bit and caught up on a few little things that had happened since the party.

She looked beautiful by the way. In a white satin mermaid dress with rhinestones on the bodice and little left to the imagination in other areas. I honestly spent a large chunk of the evening wondering what the underwear situation was underneath her little number. At one point Candy myself and a couple of her other friends were chatting and she said she thought she could wear her dress for other occasions. I said 'Yeah of course you can wear it again ... later.'

She said 'Yeah, that's what I said, like to ... blah, blah, blah'

I said 'No Candy I mean you can WEAR. IT. AGAIN. LA-TER.' *cleared throat, pulled up some eyelid*

She looked at me in shock 'What?!'

I replied 'You know ... LA-TER.'

I'm not sure we were on the same page.

Anyhoo, a bit later in the evening I was excited to be greeted by Sasha (the old friend from high school I visited with the two little guys). I was so excited to see her there. We got a couple of pictures and chatted it up.

Sasha (I believe) is a fairly regular blog reader, so as we were finally getting our meal (at 9:15ish) she asked if what we were having was a part of my 'eat clean' diet. At that point I wondered how wise it was that I made public this information - cheating is not made easy.

As the night drew on I quickly learned that the predominant presence at this party was indeed Persian and it reflected in everything we did. From the menu (meat, meat, meat and oh a little more meat - I liked these people), to the music (did you know there's Persian techno music?! I'm so sheltered), to the 'dancing of the knife' escapade (I'm not sure what it means but people take turns dancing all Persian like around and sort of teasing the bride and groom with it by handing it over but not giving it to them then dancin' some more and on and on until finally they give it over. Not my favourite part as I was thinking the whole time 'if they give me the dang knife I swear I'm going to toss it at Candy and said cut the damn cake so I can cheat already!!').

I learned a lot that night.

Most of it had to do with the dancing though.

First off I have to say I was really tired and later disappointed at this tiredness because I wasn't my usual dance-o-matic self. At my party I barely stopped all night and I had guests comment about it when I saw them after the party. I just think dancing is an amazing way to release and remind yourself to not take life so seriously.

I had a beer in hopes that it'd loosen my reigns a bit but no luck, I was really still tired from the retreat.

Also I feel as though getting to the point of really good dancing is kind of like the build up in sex. It takes some build up. I mean you need to be in the mood, have the right atmosphere, and a willing party. I wasn't feelin' it as much as I'd liked to.

I have to be honest, just as I felt like I was getting into the music it would change into the Persian techno I was telling you about, which was admittedly foreign to me. I guess it wouldn't have mattered so much had I had the Persian moves. I'm telling you those people have a way with their hips. And let me tell you, I had no idea wrists could look so sensual.

I definitely learned that there is a Persian way of dance. And that I admired them for it.

I loved that no matter the age or gender people all around were up and moving. Celebrating required dancing. Unlike North American white people who, as Sasha pointed out, generally just need some good unhealthy food to 'get down' to.

Now that I think of it I may not have been in the mood for dancing because I was too busy observing (I love observing).

I watched a couple dancing together and it appeared to be a conversation their bodies were having rather than a dance routine. Wally also pointed out a couple of woman who were 'gettin' down' that almost looked like they were having a face off. I think I've seen this on like the Discovery channel before on a documentary with birds or something. It's all very interesting.

I loved that there were a couple of little girls probably around 6 and 8 that were right in there with their circular wrist movements to match their hips.

I loved too that the people seemed to embrace the clearly Caucasian jerky tries at the smooth Iranian dance. Man white people are so crude, clearly myself included.

Oh something else I cannot forget to mention was the attire.

Oh man, the attire. These people totally dressed up. And the ladies had confidence. By that of course I mean they wore clothes I'd wait a lifetime to feel comfortable in.

The standard dress was cut above the knee, fitting tight enough to closely hug every visible curve (and perhaps a couple that weren't supposed to be), and often layered so that when they danced the material may rise and fall.

I loved that these woman weren't perfect. They weren't fat or anything but they weren't walking sticks, and they weren't ashamed of their curvaceous bods. Did I mention they had booty in the back?

I got thinking as the night went on about my own self image issues. Wow, I need to get over myself.

Now I've admitted this before and am completely aware of these issues and am truly trying to work on it. It's really not an easy task for me.

But I have to say I think the best medicine for me was seeing women who were completely comfortable in their skin (and covered up at the same time, well, for the most part), that didn't have stickly model bodies. I love it!

I told Wally on the way home that I wanted Persian confidence. I'm not sure exactly where you can pick that up but when I find out I'm gonna get me some.

Maybe I need to give myself an assignment that will help me grow into some more body confidence. Heck, confidence itself is great too. Of course I have definitely developed this in leaps and bounds in the past few years.

Someday I plan on partying like I'm Persian and you will see me doing the knife dance like it's nobody's business.

Of course it'll be the white girl's less classy version.

But that's ok.

Accepting Mamahood

I think I've been talking a lot about this lately. I don't remember if I've been blogging about it as much as I've been thinking, thinking, thinking about it but acceptance is what this post is all about.

During my retreat I finally came to the realization that God (or however you feel comfortable taking it) has indeed 'called' me to be a mother.

How is this different than me choosing to be a mother?

Well, as humans we all have the opportunity to have children (whether biologically, adoptively, or spiritually). You do not need to physically give birth, go through lawyers and paperwork, or be given permission by someone to take on the responsibility of helping someone grow as a human being. At any given time you can develop a bond with another person and take on a parenting role which provides the necessities of life.

As I've mentioned before I've always felt the desire to be a mother. No doubt much of it came from the natural womanly instinct to do so. I think that many of us come pre-programmed to naturally want this, it is pretty much all over our bodies.

However somewhere along the road (I've mentioned how) this changed for me and the fear of child rearing overcame any sense I had to step into the realm of procreation.

The fact that I am not a fairytale thinker makes the image of having children even less appealing.

I once loved the idea of becoming a mommy because it meant someone (in the ideal situation) would love me, someone would need me, I would get to stay home and be all Martha Stewarty (though after her stint in prison doesn't sound all that positive), ultimately I would get make and be someone's world. For some reason this idea appealed to me (in this moment I can't for the life of me figure out why).

Once reality hit I woke up and saw what motherhood was really like and the pendulum swung in the opposite direction.

Then when I thought of mother hood I thought of all of the same things that I mentioned earlier but in a different light. Someone would love me - now meaning I could hurt them when I screwed up or was absent. Someone would need me - therefore being absent wasn't really an option (at least not if you wanted to be a good parent). I would get to stay home all day - like Martha Stewart, be imprisoned and never get to leave.

Suddenly my perspective changed. All the things I once saw as the reasons to become a mother quickly became my reasons NOT to become a mother. Thus putting me in a rather difficult position. To make a choice.

I have had several conversations with people (predominantly mothers) about this topic and have not had one of them give me a straight answer.

I've heard 'You'll know when you know' (Great, thanks I'll keep waiting then for the lightning bolt and pray it doesn't hit when I'm 75). I've also heard 'Some people are meant to have kids and some aren't' (Ok so it that a hint?). Then there's been the 'You're never ready to have kids, just do it!' (Alright, so I shouldn't finish college first?). And then there's 'If you aren't positive DON'T do it because once they are here they are here' (so I'm off the hook then?). And I can't leave out the 'You're only 30 don't worry about it now!' (Yeah I get that but I also know first hand that once I'm 35 things change a lot in regards to pregnancy and adoption itself does not happen overnight).

None of these responses ever made me feel closer to knowing what to do. I mean Wally and I did give the natural thing a chance for a little while so it's not like we had been completely closed to the idea but now that we feel that the ball is entirely in our court knowing what to do is more difficult. Do you go ahead and adopt? Do you take this thing as a sign that you are 'off the hook' for the parent thing and breathe a huge sigh of relief? Or do you forge ahead because society expects every household with a thirty something couple to have two kids and a couple of pets?

No answers were coming to me.

A couple of months ago when I was maxed out with stress I e-mailed a friend of mine about my stress dilemma compounded with Wally showing the beginnings of wanting a family. Suddenly the tables were turning and Wally was the one ready for kids and I was finally preparing myself for a life of 'freedom' from the task. I asked my friend what was wrong with me and that I felt like I was going crazy.

I remember not feeling very appeased by his response, instead I felt the responsibility to open myself up to the idea of kids. I was not impressed. I was stressed out and then being asked to consider torturing myself with MORE possible stress.

I will admit I felt even more conflicted after that over the kid thing but another suggestion he had was to get away and relax. After ignoring his advice on reconsidering the parent thing (instead I just let it be), I did decide he could be onto something with the relaxing thing.

After my post on having the 'Sads' and again hearing from others that a get away would be wise, I made a commitment to do so and I did.

By that point I had to let the kid thing go. Wally wasn't pressing at all and I just wasn't getting any clarity about it and we weren't in a rush. Also, after I met with Sasha and heard her honest take on motherhood and life as a parent I definitely felt that the decision wasn't getting any easier (By the way I love that Sasha is as honest about mommydom as I am about marriage - we're like the two people you need to talk to before making those decisions, just an FYI).

Anyways, I finally took time off and went away by myself to relax and get renewed. I finally admit another goal I have and feel as though my retreat may ignite some insight into it. And what do I get? A reminder about the kid thing. In fact, even more than a reminder, confirmation. I am indeed to be a mother.

Usually when people find out they can't have kids (and again I can't say Wally and I are in that particular boat, we still proceed in life expecting that we could very well be able to), they are at the point when they know it's right for them, they know it's what they want.

For me, I had headed in the opposite direction. The direction of 'I don't want to do what I want to do, because sometimes what I want isn't the best thing for me. So if I'm supposed to be a mom I need to be told that's what I should do, but someone who knows best. Otherwise I'd be making a hasty selfish decision (not that having kids is necessarily selfish, but for many people it is; they want to have the appearance of the perfect family, they want to be loved by someone, or they want what society says they should have, instead of seeing it as the biggest sacrifice they could make though I know you do get a lot out of it).

I didn't want to get into parenthood for the wrong reasons and then resent my kid(s) for taking away what I just acquired: a job, time with my husband, the joy of writing, and certain self realizations. (Oh yeah, and sleep, not that I get tonnes of it but I enjoy what little I get).

I basically didn't want to shoot myself in the foot. (Sorry parents if this sounds horrific, I'm just being honest).

Needless to say I was a bit surprised that within the first couple of hours of my retreat God revealed this to me.

How do I know it was God? Because all of the doubts I had before in myself have completely vanished, and I have peace now that I NEVER EVER had while wrestling oer every wandering possibility. I am now entering the thoughts of being a mom kind of like a job, that was given to me by an expert on the topic. You know as well as I do if someone you admire for doing something well tells you they think you'd be great at it your confidence sky rockets.

I know to some degree what to expect, while at the same time I have no idea at all. I know that I won't sleep. I know that I may or may not have what society considers a 'normal' child. I all of a sudden know that I can still work on my degree and be a mom (it won't be easy but people do it). I know that I can work if I want to and be a mom. I know that there will be situations I just don't know the answer to but that's normal. And that I'll screw up often but I'm pretty sure that's what parents are supposed to do (not intentionally).

I know that I probably won't ever have a clean house again, or clean clothes for that matter. I know that I will have days when I don't think I can take any more (I'm starting to think that you have those no matter what though). I know that it'll be the hardest thing I will ever do. I know that I will likely wonder at times if I heard God correctly.

Most of all I will know I didn't make this decision alone. That gives me more peace about this than anything else. Because if I didn't have to make this decision alone, it means the one asking me to do this won't make me do it alone (of course I do remember tat Wally is apart of this too).

It's with this knowledge that I am accepting this realization.

As I am walking through other dreams I have and trying to live them out I am realizing the incredible gift of acceptance. It should not go unappreciated.

Many people never accept the gifts they are given because they don't believe they deserve them, or they don't feel as though they know what to do with them so in turn they run from them. They never accept them.

I was running because I was scared. Scared that I didn't have this particular gift, that is wasn't for me. But it was. It is. And now that I know this I accept it and all that I will learn from it.

Now I need to say that for me I believe motherhood is a gift. For you it may be something else.

It may be singleness giving you freedom as wide as the ocean (this gift is way undersold), it may be a life full of love for a partner that grows in ways unknown by those with other distractions. You may be called to travel the world and serve those in places I've never seen. You may be gifted to learn and teach.

I could go on and on.

Know that as you give them back to God, the desires of your heart will be met and I think, surpassed.

Don't get me wrong, in one way I am still scared senseless to enter this world. I mean I am not into pastels, baby talk, or talking about my 'plug'. Lord willing I can get by all of this without any of it occurring. I know that however I become a mother He will once again meet me where I'm at and give me what I need to do the job the best way I can.

Maybe we can settle on primary colours ... I'm really not a traditionalist, if you hadn't caught on to that yet.

(BTW Even though this realization has come Wally and I are making no efforts at this time to make such things occur. I'm just enjoying no longer stressing about making this decision. That's why I'm writing about it).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Retreatville Day 3

It’s now 8 am and I am trying to prepare myself for home. Both physically and mentally.

I just came up from breakfast by myself.

(By the way I think my host must have high jacked my laptop while I was away yesterday. For breakfast today he offered me eggs and ham with my yogurt, fruit and granola. Of course this was after I had rounded out my meal ahead with some cottage cheese from home. Needless to say I am overly stuffed even after leaving half of the ham on the plate. My body is currently trying to process triple the protein it’s used to in one sitting).

I really enjoyed breakfast by myself. At one point the sun shone brightly through the window near me and I considered it God’s personal gesture of affection to start my journey home.

As I sit on my island in my oasis I ponder all of my little discoveries while I’ve been here. I’ve actually learned quite a bit during my short siesta.

I’ve learned ….

I love time on my own. I’ve always known this to some degree but never imagined I enjoyed it so much. I was actually quite comfortable with myself. In fact I’m pretty good company.

Sometimes you need to turn everything off. Even while away I found it easy to distract myself with books or movies. Though unromantic at times, intentional quiet is necessary too.

The movies I picked each taught me something new. Though 2 of the 3 I’d seen before and weren’t my favourites, I really got a lot out of them. A lot. It was good.

I am indeed a mother. Though I know many really have no idea what getting confirmation on this means to me, I do. It brings me so much peace, in so many areas of my life.

I learned that God is still listening (not that I ever thought He stopped). He is always waiting for us to stop and notice His great love.

I need to remember to see the joy in everyday. It’s there.

Silence is always around. We just need to remember to let it have a voice.

Eating alone is sometimes a gift.

Waterfalls are miraculous.

Gay people have their own travel magazine (they do! There’s one in my room). I didn’t mention this before but the man that owns and runs the B&B is gay (as was the woman who owned the one Wally and I went on our vacation). He definitely doesn’t hide it (it is posted on the B&B’s website which I thought was wise). I sort of purposefully came here because of that actually, since we had such a great experience at the other one, I thought maybe there was a correlation. I’d come back.

I’ve learned that I am more capable and daring than I ever thought I was. I mean I couldn’t travel abroad by myself but maybe someday.

I have an incredibly supportive amazing husband, whom for the most part I take for granted.

I guess I’ve learned quite a bit. Not all discoveries were expected but they were all welcome in the end.

Now I have to prepare myself for real life again and how I might find the quiet in it. I’ll do my best.

I know life is busy for everyone. I know it’s not always easy or seemingly possible to just take off by yourself for a couple of days but I believe it’s necessary sometimes. I don’t care if you are a single person or married, a mother of young children or free from that responsibility. We ALL need time to think, to pray, to hope, to relax, to dream, to figure. We all do.

If you are reading this and you wonder at all if this is something you may benefit from I’m here to say YES you will. Don’t expect a miracle in some lightning bolt sense, but if you go with an open mind and a willing heart you will learn something. And I’m pretty sure most times the little things we learn are indeed the big things.

I’m kinda thinkin’ that I might keep learnin’ a few little things even when I get back.

Here’s hoping.


Retreatville Day 2/4

It’s almost 9:30pm on my second night. The time has whipped by far quicker than I thought it would.

After my round of solitaire I enjoyed an hour long nap. When I woke up I went back to Gloryland for my final journey, it was grand. I then decided I needed to get out again. I perused my trusty map and got an idea of somewhere I could possibly park the car and go for a nice long walk.

Once again I made a last minute turn that shocked the car behind me and I veered towards my destination. I found a spot where several other cars were parked on the side of the road near a couple of small baseball fields filled with little kids and their parents. (I later wished I’d stayed to watch them play after my walk, there’s something about watching little kids do sports). I grabbed my MP3 player, my keys, my camera and cell phone (thought I’d be wise this time seeing as I was navigating myself around a foreign town). I threw my purse in the trunk and off I walked.

I walked for about 15 minutes when I came upon a street called ‘Lovers Lane’, took a picture of the sign and decided that was definitely to street I was going to walk down. And I did.

I noticed all of the large immaculately kept homes. Quite the sight to see. I enjoyed peeking through bushes and peering past gated fences to see how the people in this neighbourhood lived. Very nicely it appeared.

I walked as far as I could until I ran out of sidewalk then turned back and kept walking in the opposite direction of my car. I got to a bench and noticed I wasn’t all that far from all of the churches I drove past earlier today. I decided it probably wouldn’t be a wise move to try and walk to them since I had already walked 45 minutes and my car was still a good distance away.

Instead I chose to sit on the bench and watch the traffic go by. I really wished the bench was somewhere more secluded and quiet, but it wasn’t so I would try my best to ponder loudly.

I thought about my time away, if I’d made good use of it, if I had anything to take away from it, if I would try this again someday.

I decided I had a very good time, that it didn’t seem long enough but I could take things back with me and try and learn to rest and reflect while at home in the every day.

There was actually a phrase that came to me while I was on my walk. It was: ‘Find the joy in the everyday’.

I thought that was interesting. Surely it’s already on a plaque somewhere, maybe I’ve even heard it before, I don’t know. But it reminded me that all of the things I’ve done while away can be done in some way at home. And, there is always joy somewhere in a situation or the everyday, you just have to look. Maybe it’ll become my new mantra. We’ll see.

I sat on the bench and tried to collect up and organize my thoughts to figure out some great epiphany (because apparently getting confirmation that I am indeed a mother in waiting isn’t enough for me).

I found it difficult. After a while I stopped trying and decided it was time to return to my car.

Once I got home I read on the front porch for a little while, then judged that it was time for me to soak in the tub (seeing as I skipped having a shower this morning, it’s summer, I am a sweater and I guess it seemed logical). I filled it with bubbles then chatted with Wally on the phone for 9 minutes and 38 seconds (you needed to know exact times).

Next I thought it might be a good idea to have another visit with God. I went looking for my journal and could not find it in my room. Rats! I left it in the car and I was in no form to go out and retrieve it.

I then decided to compromise and use the laptop to ‘write’. I learned that it may now be the most natural form for me to use right now in communicating with God.

Seeing as I am now used to typing out my thoughts for the blog it did seem to flow quite well to write out my thoughts to Him on the computer. I know my mother in law would probably have thoughts on this techy style of communication but seeing as I have been communicating more out of the realm of ‘Hey God that’s a cool bug’ or ‘You know God, that person really annoys me’ or just plain ignoring Him altogether, I’m taking the computer as a good starting over point.

My letter was basic, to the point and sort of affectionate. As affectionate as I get. I may share it, I may not. We’ll see.

It’s now the time I normally go to bed but I really wanted to get a movie in tonight. I may start it and just see how it goes. I am really tired.


My Letter… (which I share only because I feel that sometimes we need to understand how basic things can be and how easy it can be to start this conversation. Give it a try sometime.)

Dear God,

Well I’m back again. I feel like I ripped you off a little in this retreat. Did I? I don’t know. I am just not sure how to do all this, but I already mentioned that.

I feel as though perhaps this is becoming an excuse for me to not communicate with you more often. Is it? I don’t want to make promises to you for when I go home like ‘I’ll do this for this amount of time and that for that amount of time’ but I do feel as though I need to make some sort of an effort, you know, considering all you put up with.

I kinda feel like the wife that wants to stay married but doesn’t know if she loves her husband anymore. This is actually probably a good analogy for me to relate to seeing as I have felt this way before and you have healed and brought hope to that situation. Clearly if I give even a little to start with you can do great things with that.

What do you think we should do when we hang out now? Is it any different than before? Should I go to church or home group again? What about Wally? How does it work for us?

God I know life is better with you. I know life is hopeful with you. God I know things are possible with you. Help me.

Am I allowed to listen for you? You know, like I used to. Maybe doing this would be good, just typing it out? Would that be so wrong? It makes me think of you. It makes me remember you.

God, you are more than I could ever deserve. You are … perfect.

I’ll be honest I’m sort of surprised I am saying these things but I’m pretty sure I mean them. You would know best.

I want to get to know you again. With fresh eyes and hopefully an open heart. I won’t lie it scares me a lot. I’m scared of religion, of theology, of confusion. I know to some degree those things are inevitable seeing as I’m human, you are God and I live on earth and humans sort of have issues with these things and stuff.

God, what if I commit to ten minutes a day? I mean it could turn into more somedays and of course that’s the hope but I’m thinking baby steps. I’m scared to fail, to let you down. I’m tired of failing, so tired.

Can you clean my heart please? A nice polish. I’ll do my best to let you do that and guard it from the dirt.

Thank you for the waterfall today. I needed that. It was beautiful. Really beautiful. I could have stood there all day.

Can you open my eyes and show me more? I know it’s all around me. I know it is. But sometimes I let other things get in my view. I want to always see you instead. I think you are pretty handsome.

I wish I could hug you God. I wish I could feel you hug me. I think you do all of the time but I probably don’t notice. Teach me God, how to notice your hugs.

Then of course there’s my family and those around me. I haven’t been great with them. I haven’t loved as well as I know I could. Can you help me with this?

God I want to keep seeing you, if that’s ok. I know that it’s pretty much up to me. Please feel free to remind me of stuff at anytime. I need it.

I love you Papa. I missed you. I don’t want to leave you again. Thank you for not leaving me. You are so great.

P.S. About the mom thing, I can’t do it without you. You know that right? I’m not tryin’ to be bossy but you are gonna have to orchestrate this one because I don’t know what to do. Have fun with it!

Love your daughter,

Eva :)

Retreatville Day 2/3

I’ve been here now for nearly 24 hours. It’s been good. I am currently listening to my host show some new guest through the house. I already know the spiel.

I had breakfast this morning with a couple from the States and a lady with a very thick accent I didn’t recognize. All three were hobby dog handlers in the area for training.

Much of the conversation held the words ‘diagonal’, ‘cross’, and ‘course’. I was lost but stayed too long to be excused in the middle. I mostly sat and listened. They were nice.

Breakfast was continental. I didn’t know B & B’s could do that, I mean isn’t there like a law somewhere that says they have to deliver real breakfast? I was a tad disappointed but oh well. My body got it’s daily dose of carbs and a retreat from protein, it wasn’t excited.

Later this morning I decided to get in the car and take a trip. To where? I didn’t know. Just out.

I grabbed the place mat sheet with a basic area map on it and all of the things to see. Initially I just had a goal of finding a Wal-Mart to people watch, if I got lucky I’d find a mall.

I did notice the map showed a trail or two (ok several) but the sky was quite overcast. I decided if I stumbled upon one I’d totally stop. Well, that is if I had the courage.

I took a snack, some water and all of my keys then hopped in the car.

As I drove I came to not one but two circle round about thingys. There weren’t as confusing as I thought. I was proud of myself for not screwing them up.

I kept driving, even past the Wal-Mart. Courage had come. I kept my eyes open for the trail.

I quickly learned ‘keeping my eyes opened’ was a bit dangerous as it also caused my eyes to wander. I barely managed to stay safe.

I drove past a little town with some beautiful churches but saw no where to park so I kept going. I came upon some gorgeous scenery as I was in an escarpment area with rocks and cliffs and stuff. It was cool.

As I drove I came upon my trail. In a last second decision I pulled over, no doubt giving the car behind me a heart attack. I parked the car and sat to figure out what I needed on this adventure.

Definitely my camera, certainly my running shoes and most likely a sweater – just in case.

Other things I should’ve brought but didn’t: my cell phone, my water and my snack. You know, just in case I got lost or stranded, abducted or hurt. I threw up a prayer as my insurance instead.

As I got onto the trail I read the sign and it said something about a waterfall. I clearly paid no attention at the time though because I was stunned when I eventually came to it. I guess I was focused on not getting lost.

I read signs that spoke of wearing the proper hiking gear. Runners and a hoodie didn’t make the list. I took my chances.

I walked along a narrow winding path that went steep down on one side to a babbling brook and went steep up to trees, trees, trees on the other. Though it was often cloudy every once in a while the sun found its way through the trees to play peek a boo with me. When it did I felt like the sky was smiling at me, even though I couldn’t really see it.

The walk was beautiful. There were a few firmly built bridges to walk over and rocks to watch your steps on but not a difficult hike. Rather short actually. Within ten minutes I had gotten to the end of the trail, but was not disappointed when I saw what awaited me.

A huge magnificent waterfall. Trickling down layers and layers of rocks.

There was a deck to stand on, sort of a ‘look out’. There was already a middle aged couple there chatting away. The gentleman said hello but the lady didn’t even look at me. I hoped they were on their way, but no such luck.

I stood there and looked for several minutes. I took lots of pictures from different angles. I tried to ‘connect with nature’. I’m not so sure I was successful but I definitely appreciated what I was experiencing.

I tried to figure out if this surprise waterfall meant anything in my journey. Nothing jumped out at me. I decided if my memory served me well that the waterfall may end up representing my time away. My little discovery about being a mother. (One might correct me and say ‘becoming’ a mother, but I’d correct them and say ‘being’ a mother).

Once I had absorbed all I could I ventured back to the car and decided to keep driving to see what I’d find.

Not too far in, my street came to an end and I had to choose a turn. I chose right and cemented in my mind that it was Main St. I was on. I figured as long as I knew the street and I kept straight how wrong could my sight seeing mission go?

I soon found out, when the street I was driving on turned into 4 lanes of one way traffic. I soon caught on that I was out of my element and clearly you can get into trouble even if you are travelling on the same street in one direction.

If you know me at all you know my incredibly hindered sense of direction. Like, there aren’t words. I had no map either, I mean, not a real one. So I decided on a common sense approach.

It worked. Within ten minutes, after a couple of one way streets and a trip on the freeway (as the GPS lady would call it and no I didn’t use her), I found Main St. again.

I was very proud of myself but now I was getting hungry. I concluded that I would do something I’ve never done before. Go to a sit down restaurant by myself for lunch and order whatever I wanted.

I found a famous chain restaurant that I am keen on that Wally isn’t a fan of (and now that we are eating ‘clean’ I can’t enjoy to it’s fullest anyway). The friend I went with for breakfast a couple of months ago ordered something that made me envious so I put myself in Gloryland and got it for myself today.

Sometimes when you are out of your element you have to enjoy (sometimes you have to enjoy things in your element but that’s the habit we are trying to correct). I concluded one bad meal out of the 18 while away wasn’t a sin. And it WAS my vacation right? (Clearly I still have mental work to do )

I got a cinnamon brioche dipped in French toast batter piled with fresh fruit (I mean fresh), a scrabbled egg and 3 thinly spiced pieces of bacon. I have to share a couple of things. I have not eaten bacon in 3 ½ months and before that I was involved in a deep and serious love affair with it.

Today I learned that the affair is over. Bacon was ok but not worth the affair. Good to know.

As for my cinnamon brioche French toast …. Oh. My. Goodness. It was indeed a piece of Gloryland. Seriously. Every bite amazing. And though I won’t be having it again, well, maybe ever. It was worth it.

I ended bringing half of my lunch/breakfast home to be enjoyed later.

I then did something I won’t share, then headed home.

I just finished watching a rather difficult movie. I learned something about myself from it. Or rather I was reminded of a piece of my past. Let’s just say I am thankful for today.

I am thankful for today.

The sun is shining now and the breeze blowing. If it wasn’t such a drive I’d go find another trail or something. Maybe later, maybe not. I think I’ll listen to a podcast now and play some solitaire.


Retreatville Day 2/2

I don’t want showers.

I mean no séances.

Absolutely not.

There will definitely be a party because clearly a family addition deserves that, but certainly nothing involving all types of ladies in a circle passing the newly acquired
creature around and cooing when it poops.

Nope, none of that. I refuse. Flat out refuse.

Just needed to clear the air.

Retreatville Day 2/1

I was up bright and early this Day 2 of my ‘retreat’. When I first glanced at my watch I was astounded at the fact that I slept until 6:35am!!! Then I looked at it in the light and realized that it was 5:35am. Guess I need to work on the sleeping in thing.

I did feel rested though and had fallen madly in love with what I now see as my own personal island oasis. I am referring to my bed.

An island is a perfect description for it. It’s the biggest part of the room. I make sure that it holds all of my needs (books, laptop, snacks, movies, pillows and 1400 thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets, and heavenly pillows).

It took me a little while to fall asleep lastnight. Not because I was lonely, dogless or scared because to be honest I wasn’t any of these things.

It was more because I’m used to having two pillows to sleep on that together make the perfect place to rest my head and when apart work for me to lie on my stomach and sandwich my head between them. These pillows were a bit too big to put together but not enough to use apart (though they were delightfully soft).

I must have made some sort of decision at some point because I woke up with both under my head and used a third as a pretend body beside me.

I also found it difficult to know how exactly to sleep in a queen sized bed as Wally and I are used to our double.

I wiggled and moved to and fro. I tried diagonal, then just on one side, then the other. I almost tried even laying across the bed then I thought ‘Girl get yourself under control this isn’t rocket science’. I ended up slightly past the middle on the side Wally is usually on and slept great.

I have to say I can’t believe how relaxed I am. I mean I’m on my own in a strange place, with people coming and going and I don’t really give a rip. I didn’t leave my room all evening yesterday. It was great.

I ended up watching the romantic comedy which reminded me of something in myself I needed to watch (who knew you could get a life lesson out of a romantic comedy?). I spoke to Wally on the phone for 10 minutes and did some reading. And of course I wrote the last post. It was nice.

When I woke up early this morning all rested up I wasn’t sure what to do. No dogs to walk, I was on the clock for breakfast at 7:30am, and I was doing my best to go with however whatever spirit would move me. I decided I would write a letter. So I did. To God.

Honestly this action was inspired more by reading ‘Eat, pray, love’ than an innate spiritual act of love. But if you read the letter I do believe it was a love letter … in some form.

I used to journal to God all of the time but marriage, life, heartache, and confusion pulled me away. I don’t blame those things, ultimately it’s been my decision to neglect the practice but they were my valid reasons as to why I had not done so any longer.

I used to approach God with great reverence and fear. Fear in all sorts of ways. Fear that if I said something wrong or phrased something inadequately He wouldn’t be able to ‘read between the lines’ and get what exactly my heart was saying. After reading a little tidbit out of the fore mentioned book I realized something I think I already knew in my heart, God’s cool.

I mean the cool thing about Him is that unlike people He doesn’t need the perfect wording to ‘get’ what you’re sayin’. He sees your heart, whether you want Him to or not. And even if you aren’t really sayin’ properly what you’re wantin’ to say, He knows what you mean. Know what I mean?

I guess I really just want Him back in my life. Not that He’s ever left. He hasn’t, but I sort of left Him. Not really intentionally and maybe in some ways not at all. But in some ways I’ve shut down parts of my heart to Him which is really no way to live. It’s no way to live with a spouse or a friend, it’s definitely no way to live with the one person who loves me deepest and knows me best.

Not to mention the person that created me to be … me.

And that’s what I really want isn’t it? To be the best me I can be? The best way to serve the one who made me is to let Him in, to let Him show me things, to let Him have His way with me.

At some point in the past several years I stopped trusting God. I stopped trusting that He would give me what I needed and I gave myself what I needed. I think I did that because the life I had disappointed me, it wasn’t a fairy tale, it wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter, it wasn’t easy. The life I had hurt me, broke me, and seemed to make me feel I was a failure.

Therefore God was clearly not making my life better so I took matters into my own hands.

Now to some degree I feel like this is exactly what He wanted me to do. You know, to learn that I have a responsibility to do some things myself. That though life isn’t handed to me on a silver platter I still have the power to go out and buy the platter, if that’s what I want (it maybe just a plastic platter painted silver but you know, it works).

I have learned so much in the past several years about how much we as people are indeed responsible for our own happiness, for our own lives. I have learned there are so many things we do control, no matter what circumstances we fall into.

However, it is at this point I feel God is quietly, patiently awaiting my return from this lesson to take me to my next one perhaps. I have a feeling He’s planning on catching a front row seat for this one.

I decided to do the mirror exercise again this morning, hoping maybe that yesterday’s possible epiphany was misguided. Hoping that I might see something different. Hoping that the lighting may be a wee bit kinder.

I stood tall in front of the bathroom mirror once again. I looked.

The first thing that caught my eye were my eyes.

I have always noticed my eyes. I’m not sure if it is really because they seem all that attractive, I mean they’re ok. I like them and all but, you know, they are just eyes. Made more beautiful with make up and more alive with a smile, but still I’ve mostly only ever seen eyes.

Today as I took another look at my reflection I saw it again.

I saw a mother.

You may wonder what I am seeing or how I am seeing this all of a sudden. I can’t really say I know. Just that in my eyes I recognize a fierceness and passion for some kid (or kids) that I am yet to meet.

I see a woman that is ready to fight for the best for potential little hellions that may enter her life (or angels, I’m preparing myself for a challenge). A woman that is made to learn from the littlest human creatures. A woman that is desperately trying to slough off her ‘calling’ to mother because she knows that on her own she cannot accept this ‘call’.

I am not sure if I can properly portray now how difficult it is for me to accept this job. I have guarded myself so carefully, against all rationale, all logistics, all cushy romantic thoughts about it, pretty much locked myself safely out of place from anything to do with this.

You may wonder why. You may know why.

Other than the obvious ‘I was hurt and grief stricken when it didn’t happen before’, I think it also has a lot to do with my very unromantic thoughts about having a family.

Nothing annoys me more than romantics. I’m talking about all kinds. Those romantic over love, over babies, over buying a house, over travel, over renovating, cooking, going to school, over pretty much anything that in thought appears beautiful but in reality gets very messy and even dirty.

I’m a realist, sometimes to a fault (clearly). I am a preparer. I prepare mentally for challenges. I map out how I can be prepared to handle unexpected aversions. I think of all of the ways something could or may go wrong so that I am able to figure out what to do to fix it if need be.

If I am traveling and I know that the weather’s going to be hot and uncomfortable I prepare my mind to put up with the fact that I’m not going to like it but ‘it’s’ part of the experience, then I move on.

I prepared myself originally to be a very young newly married mother. I wasn’t prepared for the fact that life was going to take a different turn. After that little episode I was no longer interested in this ‘call’ (as I feel for me) to be a mother. If I can’t prepare for it then I’m not sure that I want it.

I know all of you mothers out there will think me clearly insane as there is no possible way of preparing to be a parent. None.

My solution in the past few years has been to ignore what I’ve known in my heart for years in hopes that I was wrong all along.

Give me a minute … (dashes to the mirror again)

... Nevermind. I still see a mom.


Now I sit here and wonder what’s next. I’m certainly not planning on running home to Wally to say ‘Let’s have a baby!!’ because there are still a few things to think about. Adoption is at the root of my heart. That doesn’t happen over night. Of course neither does having a baby.

I guess the first thing I will do is this:

Go from ‘If we have kids’ to ‘When we have kid(s)…’

No more ifs.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I'm ba-ack ... Retreatville Day 1

Yes it's true I made it through the past few days no worse for the wear. In fact a tad more enlightened than before I went. Probably more tired than when I left, but it's all good.

Lightning didn't strike me down but I certainly faced a couple of things I've been avoiding, things that I will likely write even more about after I post what I managed to write while away.

Even today as Wally and I returned from our overnight stay in the ci-te (city, only said all french like) and the Persian/Canadian wedding reception we went to (definitely more on that later!!!), I am continuing to have little 'light bulb moments'.

It's kind of strange, while I was away I did not once pick up a health or fitness book/magazine, I didn't once feel the urge to skim through my new healthy food porn (those are my recipe books by the way - yes I took them, don't judge me I've already got it covered).

However as I'm home now my little moments of understanding are actually regarding my new little fitness fetish and all that stuff. More to come with that as well.

Anyways, just thought I'd check in and let you know I wrote often while I was in Retreatville and I have everything ready to post. I figured I'd stagger my posts though throughout the next couple of days. So that it's kind of like you were there with me.

Remember to scroll down cause you never know how anxious I get and when I may post more than expected. I don't want you to miss one then be like 'Holy Crap - what's she talkin' about now?!'

If you were a pray-er, thank you. Miracles did happen.

Big and little.

With a thankful heart,


Here's my first post revealing the beginning evidence of your prayers:

Retreatville Day 1

Well I made it. I arrived to my getaway destination at 3:30pm on the nose after a quick visit with my aunt on the way.

I met my host right off the hop and took care of the business stuff then got a tour of my temporary home.

The first thing I noticed was the vast amount of stuff that filled the house. Lots of décor and furniture I have only ever seen in magazines. Shawn spoke faster than I could follow and listened a bit less then he spoke.

He was clearly proud of his home and business and had every right to be, all was beautiful.

I was shown all of the guest rooms (even the ones occupied, hmmmm a bit odd), the hot tub, the sheltered out door automatic fire pit thing, the porches, the grand piano (which I may get closer to at some point), the workout room (that I won’t be using as it is temporarily moved to the garage while renovations are happening), and then of course my room.

Once he left me alone I collected all of my things and settled in. The first thing I did was throw my food in the mini fridge then quickly got out the vase I brought to put the roses my in laws bought me for graduation yesterday. Yes, I brought them with me. I figured since I’d be away for three and a half days the flowers would be near death when I arrived home. So I took some … oh what are they called? Those tube things that you fill with water and put on the bottom of the stem, well anyways I did that and brought them all with me so I could still enjoy.

I’m quite sure Shawn thought I was a crazy lady when he spotted me carry in a bunch of roses on my luggage. Oh well, maybe his thoughts are correct.

I set up my flowers and then began taking pictures of my room so I’d remember my spot, you know, in case anything life changing happened.

I believe it was at this point I sat on the big queen sized sleigh bed and wondered what I was to do next.

Hmmmm ...

Nothing to clean. No laundry to catch up on. No ironing to do. No one to call. With a vow not to watch tv that was out of the question. I decided I’d check the internet connection to see if it worked. Not that I would use it or anything.

Well, no dice. There was a connection but I didn’t have the password. I took it as a sign to let it go (and was in no mood to go hunting down Shawn for the answer).

Next, I did what any person in my position would do.

I played a few games of solitaire.

They didn’t go well. At all. So I gave up and moved on to my books, after changing into what would later be my pj’s while I ate my raw veggies. I soon learned that eating cherry tomatoes while reading wasn’t a grand idea. It didn’t turn out well when on the second page I smeared tomato juice all over the paper.

The book I bought was ‘Eat, pray, love’. No doubt you’ve heard of it. I thought it seemed sort of appropriate for the occasion. I wasn’t determined to read it but thought it may be a good possible option. I learned that I think I may be right.

I read for only a little while until I got sleepy. It was only 5:30pm. I thought ‘I’m here to rest, why not have a nap? I’m probably exhausted’. Wally pointed out the other day that I am definitely a huge napper while on vacation. I curled myself under the blankets and closed my eyes.

Then I got hot. Then I realized I wasn’t all that tired. Then I noticed my bladder was beckoning. I got up and used the facilities and decided I was happy that I placed my roses on the bathroom vanity as I had been in there several times already due to the amount of water I was consuming.

While in the bathroom I stood in front of the mirror. For probably 20 minutes. I looked at my face. Then at whatever body parts that stared back at me. Then at my face again.

I did this because Wally told me I should. He said a few days ago that I needed to look at myself in the mirror often and see how beautiful I really am. And to tell myself how great I am. I think in hopes that someday I’ll believe it.

Well I looked in the mirror with other thoughts in mind. It was more so to search myself. To see inside. Maybe to take some inventory. Not an easy task with flesh and bones all in the way.

However I did eventually see something.

What I saw staring back at me was a thirty year old woman who has recently changed a few parts of her life. There was evidence looking back at me. I was proud of that.

At the same time I saw something else though. I saw a few more lines on my fine featured face than I had noticed in a while (one can hope it was the lighting). I saw eyes that were a little tired. I saw hair that was much more me than I had wanted it to be (short and boyish).

There was something else I didn’t want to see too. A girl too scared to face something. Another dream that she’s been too afraid to address. One that she’s tried desperately to run from after life’s dramatic twists and turns.

I saw a mommy.

I saw a mother.

I saw someone’s mom.

The person I saw was hidden a little behind a few other dreams, ones that were more sensible and perhaps more catchable. Perhaps ones that wouldn’t cause so much pain to achieve or even endure. Perhaps ones that couldn’t bring so much joy either.

I’ve been running from this for a while. Running hard.

Until now.

I think I just needed to catch my breath.

Now my chest hurts a little. Maybe from over exertion. Maybe from other things. Damn.

Sometimes looking in the mirror is hard because you see something you don’t want to accept. A challenge you don’t think you can overcome, or a challenge you know you can but have never had the guts to try.

I’m someone’s mom already. I see it in my eyes.


Dee told me it’s all about acceptance. But I don’t think this is what he was referring to.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Retreatville here I come!!!!

It's finally here! The day I leave for my 'retreat'.

I am pretty much packed and all set to go. I've got comfy clothes, a bathing suit, my attire for the wedding reception Wally and I are going to the day my retreat is over. (We decided since it's a fair distance away we'd just get a room and stay the night - hence me needing to be prepared for more days than originally planned).

I even packed all of my meals for the next two and a half days and put them in a travel cooler to ensure that I would be eating 'clean' and healthy while away. Wally and I have hit a plateau with our fitness goals, which is really a result of hitting a plateau with the desire to eat well. With renewed determination I planned ahead and am set to bust through.

I have a bag packed full of books and movies. I've got a fiction novel by an author I've never read before, a couple books to help with my healthy eats learnin', an empty journal, my fisher price Bible (written in layman's language cause right now that's all I can absorb), a little Catholic Prayer book recommended by a friends for reflection, some note paper, a few thank you cards, a new book that I bought for this time a way (a memoir) and a book I'm in the middle of called 'Remember the Sweet Things' about a couple doing the marriage thing and making it work.

As for movies: I brought a thoughtful one (I've never seen) I'm sure will be hard to watch, an 'old faithful' one I could watch a hundred times and will still love, a romantic comedy I haven't seen in a while and a dramody that I rarely get enough time to sit down and watch but I enjoy.

I also have my camera, the laptop (for blog use only), my GPS (which apparently won't work anyways), my workout clothes and running shoes, and ... I'm considering brings some of the flowers I got for grad yesterday (and putting water tubes at the stems) so I get a chance to enjoy them. We'll see how my time pans out. I still have to wrap and address the skanky wedding gift I bought for Friday night.

I got them 'The Joy of S. E. X.' (it's not actually spelled like that but if I don't do this I'll get lots of creepy people who google it reading)- a spin off from 'The Joy of Cooking' book everyone gets when they get married. I have to say when I got my 'Joy of Cooking' book at one of my showers I went home and looked through and really wondered how versatile this manual was. Come on, when am I going to be needing to know how to skin a rabbit or squirrel? I figured why not give them a different essential manual?

On our way home from the book store yesterday I learned why. Because 'The Joy of S. E. X.' (in my opinion) has the same versatility as what I saw in 'The Joy of Cooking', at least from my less agile, and more conservative point of view. I briefly thought I made a mistake, then decided ah they'll understand when it's coming from me. Wally quickly told me his name would be found no where on that gift.

I did redeem myself and buy a large journal with a nice quote on the front for them to put somewhere in their home where they will both walk by it every day and write each other fun little notes. I had this idea the other day and decided that Wally and I should try this too. Maybe we will when I get back.

I have conflicting expectations about my retreat. I have one fear that I'll get there and go stir crazy being secluded for a whole two days.

Then on the other hand I worry I won't have enough time to reach another life changing epiphany. You know, cause honestly that's what I'm always wanting (and to be honest I get lots in simple ways when I do slow down).

Really I know I need to relax and let go of all of my expectations and just be. Be with God. Be with me. Just be.

Pray that I'll do that. Pray that I'll let go. Pray that I'll see what I'm supposed to, even if it's just the simplest thing.

We'll see. Maybe I won't blog, maybe I will. I'm going to really try and be sensitive to what I'm feelin' I should do.

Either way I will definitely share what I learn, even if it's just that I miss my husband more than I thought or have an unhealthy attachment to my favourite dog Sweet (he's been gone since yesterday, along with Sour, to my parents while I'm gone, and I miss him sooooo much!!!).

Well, see you on the other side!


Eva :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Back to the adventure - #30 Go to my high school reunion

I got asked to work a couple of times during the weekend of my high school reunion. When I told one person what I was busy doing they said 'Oh, you're school does that? That's cool!'

'Well, actually no they don't but it's closing so they decided to give it a whirl' I explained.

The main attraction for me to go to the reunion (and really I'm not sure that I went to the reunion since we just went through the school to see some displays) was an old high school friend of mine, that I haven't seen in years, who couldn't make it to our party said he'd be there and to make sure to find him. Really that was all. I hoped that maybe we'd run into a few other old friends too.

When we arrived in the little town I grew up in and Wally and I used to live in, we parked our car at my parents place and decided, since it was a beautiful day, that we'd walk the old 'route' I used to go to get to school everyday. I'm glad we did.

The first thing I noticed was how much shorter the walked seemed. I was so incredibly high strung growing up and hated when my friends showed up on time (you know instead of coming ten minutes early). For some reason I was obsessed with NOT being late. Hmmmm, some things have changed a bit.

As we walked Wally and I chatted about our high school years and experiences. Neither of us really loved high school. It was better for me than public school, by far, but I was still really insecure and never felt good enough and still hadn't developed a whole heck of a lot of self esteem. I'm guessing for Wally it was much of the same.

As we turned the corner of what used to be the pizza shop a very vivid memory flashed before my eyes. It was the memory of the day of the tornado. I mentioned in my '100 things about me' post that a tornado hit my parents' home when I was in high school. It actually happened during my last 3 weeks of my final year.

I find it a little odd that I have such incredibly clear memories of the afternoon BEFORE the tornado hit. I will never forget the coat I was wearing, or the fact that I remember noticing my shadow while turning the corner of the pizza shop. I remember how strong the wind seemed to be that day, yet how sunny it was.

I would have been rounding the corner on my way home from school a little over an hour before the tornado would be hitting.

I remember going home and eating the last half of the panzerotti I ordered for supper the night before, then laying down on the couch for a nap (I was an insanely early riser - still am actually). I quickly fell asleep (as usual). After a while I remember the cable cutting out on the tv and hearing fuzz. In response I did what anyone would do ... I turned over to face into the couch.

A few minutes before doing the flip I remember my dad phoning and telling me to watch the weather because there was a supposed storm coming. This should have been my first clue that something was up, as my dad NEVER and I mean NEVER worries about anything like that. He would just as soon send me out to drive two hours in a blizzard because according to him 'It's not that bad out'.

Instead of heeding his call I grouchily responded back 'Whatever, I'm trying to have a nap!' I hung of the phone and continued my pursuit of sleep.

I'm not exactly sure what did jolt me awake as the next time I opened my eyes the only thing to be seen outside was dirt flying. Many people say God woke me up and after seeing the couch I was laying on after it was over, I'd have to agree with them.

I literally jolted myself up in one single movement and ran to the basement stairs which were off of the kitchen. I remember questioning myself 'Is it dumb that I'm going to the basement?' as I went into the basement. I had to really push the old door to get through it as the pressure surrounding the house was crazy, the tornado was right there.

As I made my way through the unwilling door all of the window in the basement got sucked in, along with the newly created flowerbeds my parents had just finished.

Once I got into the basement I went over to the washing machine and looked out the window and then remembered my dog was still upstairs!! HE was in his kennel as I was napping and he was a trouble maker. You really don't think clearly when you are in situations like that because I ran right back up the stairs and leashed him and brought him down.

By the time he got to the basement again the whole thing was over and the sun was peaking through the clouds. And destruction.

I went to leave the house to see what happened outside but there was an entire tree laying in/through/around the door. I couldn't go out the garage as there were more trees blocking the entrance. I decided to call my mom at work in a neighbouring town approx. ten minutes down the highway.

She answered the phone and was calm and matter of fact. Mostly because she hadn't heard a tornado it her house.

Here was our conversation:
Me: 'Mom? I can't get out of the house.'
Mom: 'What do you mean, go out the door'.
Me: 'I can't there's a tree in the way'.
Mom: 'What are you talking about?'
Me: ' I think maybe a tornado hit our house'.
Mom: 'WHAT?! Are you ok?'
Me: 'Yeah'.
Mom: silence ... she'd hung up. And was no doubt speeding down the highway to get home.

I'll never forget what happened next.

I decided to check out the rest of the house. You know, assess the damage.

Here's what I saw:

Large trees in our main entrance (where they weren't supposed to be).
Large trees near our front entrance (where they weren't supposed to be).
More trees at our side entrance (again, not ones that a few minutes earlier lived there).
The couch I was laying on was covered, absolutely covered in large and small pieces of glass from the window it faced. A window in which yet another unwelcomed tree decided to come through.
Every window in the sun porch was shattered. Every window in the living room also shattered.
I noticed that the kitchen appeared MUCH brighter than usual. That's because the car port that was off of the kitchen was gone.
I peaked in my room and decided that it definitely looked like a tornado hit it, then realized that it actually hadn't been touched.

Finally I decided to check out the top story of the house...
I tip toed up the steps and noticed lots of bunched of green leaves every where. Some on branches, some strays.
I turned the corner and headed to my parents bedroom down the hall. That's when I immediately wondered if there was anyway I could get in trouble for this...

Looking back that seems ridiculous as how could I have possibly caused such a predicament but truly that is what my first thought was when I noticed the ceiling and roof gone from the master bedroom.

I walked in further and looked up at the bright blue sky and the shining sun.

I stepped closer to view my mother's dresser to see if anything seem out of place. I looked and I looked.

I have to explain one thing. My parents house is a story and a half, so the ceiling in their bedroom is slanted, so my mom's dresser mirror was touching the ceiling that was now no longer there.

Not one thing on her highly jewelery decorated dresser appeared out of place. In fact the thing that struck me most was that sitting on top of her tall jewelery box was a tiny rhinestone mouse pin about the size of your thumbnail. My guess is that it hadn't moved one millimeter.

After I was done assessing the house I went outside look around. There was lots too see.

Lots of uprooted trees, downed power lines, peeled off siding, at least a dozen tin sheds balled up in neighbours' yards, or in trees. The Anglican church across the street from our house was destroyed. The huge historic steeple was down the street. The old piano tipped over like a neglected toy with keys looking like broken fingers.

So much gone in such a short time.

There so much more I could tell you but I think you 've got the gist. We were out of our home for 7 1/2 weeks (5 1/2 more than they told us). I lived with a couple from the church I attended, my parents stayed 3 nights with my mom's parents before realizing that was likely not the best game plan. Another couple from our church offered them their granny flat, it was perfect. And I believe my brother went to a friend of his.

It was actually during this period of time that Wally and I became 'more than friends', which for two people that didn't kiss eachother until they were married basically means we realized that we were the ones we'd eventually be kissing someday.

I recall Wally walking me home from school the day after the tornado us naturally holding hands for the first time. The funny thing was if you asked us then we would both deny that 'it meant anything'. And it's true we were doing it out of friendship and support. Of course within a few weeks we would realize it was much more.

.... wow, I think I got off track a little. There's not a whole lot of reunion talk is there?

Well it's easy to sum up. I didn't see the friend I hoped to see. Nor did I get to see any former teachers either. No friends. No 'wow you look awful now' people. Just an old bully or two whom we both pretty much ignored.

One cool thing was bumping into a friend I have on facebook and who at some point read my blog, yet someone whom I never really knew well going through school. That was really cool.

Yeah so that was my reunion experience. Pretty blah. However it did trigger a lot of old memories and reminded Wally and I how we came together.

That was worth to walk ...

'Clean' baking

Today I spent much of my time avoiding the phone (I got two calls from work within an hour of eachother, and since have ignore the phone ringing three times as we don't have call display).

When I wasn't avoiding the phone I was in the kitchen. Today I decided I would tackle re-organizing my new pantry supplies on a shoestring (actually non existent budget, as all of the shoe string got tied up in the supplies).

For those of you who don't know I am an avid collector of recipe books, only one of which is 'clean'. So I did some shuffling around of the stuff on our shelves in our dining area off of the kitchen and put many of my old faithfuls in an inconvenient spot. Not that it would matter, I don't remember the last time I cooked with a recipe ... or even cooked.

I then had a zillion bags of goodies from the local bulk store to find homes for. At first I thought I was going to have to go and buy containers but then I had a fantastic idea! When we moved from our house I (for some silly reason) kept two boxes of mason and jam jars that I used to use to can and jam with. I scurried through my closets and found the right amount of jars (with plenty left over might I add), washed them up and filled them with all of the different nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and cereals (oat, wheat, natural, who knew there were so many?!). They actually looked very pretty on my shelves.

I also went through my cupboards and organized my new kinds of sugar (liquid and powder), other flakes and flours and ended up feeling like I had a new kitchen! Although I was tired out and I hadn't even started the cooking I'd planned on.

I took a little break, had my second meal of the day (around 10 am) and gave my first try at making 'clean' granola. It went pretty well. I over cooked some of it that was around the edges but over all it wasn't too difficult at all and it takes alright. Definitely not the sweet kind I remember as a kid but full of dried fruits, nuts and seeds. I'm eager to try it with yogurt.

Next I decided to give a protein bar recipe a try (my first of 3). It contained almond butter (along with seeds and nuts and such as well). As I reread the recipe several times and checked on it after the designated amount of time, I noticed that it didn't 'set'. No fear, I thought, I would just put it in the freezer. Sure enough, after an hour it was all firmed up. I cut it into the proper number of bars, cut one in half and had it as the first half of my fourth meal of the day. It was actually not bad. Almost kind of rich. Almost. I packaged up the other 8 bars that would be meal substitutes as they held around 400 calories a piece, but good calories remember.

My final try at baking today were Morning Glory Muffins. Again, they were about the same amount of work as any other muffin made from scratch. I think I ended up putting in too much carrot as the batter was not as present as all of the other ingredients, and once again my picture didn't exactly match. I'll have to try one tomorrow for a snack.

In the middle of all of my baking trials I baked up two batches of chicken breasts for lunches as we were getting low. We always buy chicken breasts on sale for half price then bake and slice them up and put them in pre-portioned little ziploc bags and put them in the freezer. That way you can grab and go. Add them to a wrap, a salad or just eat them as is.

I also decided to hard boil some eggs as it's been forever since Wally and I have eaten them and it's such a great portable option.

Now tonight I plan on making us our first meal out of the cook book I think it's called chicken pic-something. I believe it's Mexican and not too difficult. I used to have a garlic press around here but can I find it? Seems to be an essential item for cooking from scratch. I always cheated and put in garlic powder, not anymore.

The any other item I want to do tonight in cut up some pitas I had in the freezer and bake them (with some EVOO and garlic sea salt mmmmmm). Then I have then ready for hummus or salsa.

Wow my productivity is almost annoying.

I think someone asked about the name of the book ... it's called 'The Eat Clean Cookbook' by Tosca Reno. I also purchased the newly revised 'Eat Clean Diet - Recharged' by her as well. Though it has the word diet it is not pushed as a 'diet' per se. More of changing ones diet permanently. I would love to eventually get the original 'Eat Clean Diet' as it has many more recipes.

The book I just bought (the second one mentioned of the three) has a lot of interesting information in it teaching you about nutrition. Not on how to cheat the system to lose weight. I've also been doing a lot of reading just to learn more about how my body works. Why sugar is so bad, and what my body does with protein, or what happens when I eat a late night snack. I feel like by learning how my body actually works I understand more how to make it feel better and I want to make it feel better.

I've been thinking lately about starting a health and fitness blog (I know the world definitely needs another blog). I like the idea of having a place where I can share what I'm learning in this area of my life AND keep accountable and learn from others too. However I also don't want to get all willy nilly with my writing either. I just know that there are so many little things I've learned in the past few months, so many myths dispelled, so many truths revealed. From what goes into my body, to what goes on with my body, to what my mind and emotions are going through. I know that I'm not the only one who struggles with fitness and self image issues. I believe I am in the process of changing my life (very slowly, with many setbacks but I am) and if I can change my life, I know anyone can. Hmmmm ...something else to think about I guess.

If you have thoughts on this please share. Is this something I should try or do you hear enough about this stuff?

I also had a thought on maybe trying to get a group together of people who are interested in 'eating clean' and just hang out once a month and eat a meal together of all 'clean' food. Each person would cook a different course and share their recipe with others. I find that for me trying this is SOOOOOOOOO out of my element. I've tried things in the past that just seemed impossible, but then I see people with food in tolerances and I think 'If I HAD to change I would, so what's stopping me now?' I think it would be far easier to try new things along with others. I don't know, maybe it's another possibility.

Well I've been lovin' the time to think and try out my new venture.

Hope you do too!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Vacation - ing and more change

So clearly I haven't decided to give the blog up ... at least not right now. As I first suspected, I do believe that I over reacted. I am now working on a couple of apologies. Not for my feelings experienced in my reaction (I don't know that anyone should ever have to apologize for their feelings about anything), but rather the free way in which I spewed them out in a couple of e-mails after the hurt I felt (that by the way I know wasn't an intended hurt by anyone).

I know that I should've waited to respond to a couple of harmless questions but you know, I didn't, and well I knew as I typed that I'd likely calm down eventually and be able to rationally answer. Unfortunately I decided to rationally yet very passionately respond with exactly how I felt in that moment. I could've waited and responded without emotion. I probably should have waited and responded without emotion but I didn't and now I have to set things right.

I seem to get lots of practice apologizing as I generally speak first and think later. I don't generally apologize for what I say but more how it comes out. Life is a great teacher.

I don't know about you but I'm ready to move on...

Soooooo .... it's my vacation!!!!

The first thing I decided to do was get 'unplugged'. I knew this would be a huge challenge but decided that I wanted the most out of my time off as I could get. Clearly I am cheating a wee bit as I am blogging throughout my holiday but that's about it. I am completely off of facebook (however today's my bro's b-day and I may just need to send him a birthday wish as he asked not to be called - he's a truck driver on the road). I am going no where near my work e-mail (WOO FRIGGIN' HOO!!!!). Wally checks my e-mail account simply to let me know if any friends have contacted me about any outings. It's amazing how just hearing from him and NOT going on myself lowers the stress - it's great!!! Oh and I also turned my answering machine off - best thing ever.

So this blog is the only thing connecting me to the outside world (well, or if I look up a recipe online or something).

I actually told Wally that I was thinking about giving up going on facebook regularly but it's kinda hard as it is such a connection with friends like making plans and stuff. I find too that I'm not sure I could be on and just check mail, it get's so addicting and time consuming it's kind of ridiculous. And of course if anyone knows me on facebook, they would know I LOVE updating my status'.

I can definitely say after a weekend without internet or phone messages, I feel on vacation. My stresses are diminished, I don't have to worry about getting back to anyone or anyone 'finding' me, I love it! If only I could get rid of all of it on a regular basis, however I believe I would then be called a recluse.

In other developments ...

Last Monday I was working out with Dee and having some discussion with him about eating and I was asking more questions. I then I was complaining that my menu choices weren't enough. After spending the last 3 1/2 months eating egg whites, chicken breasts, spinach and raw veggies (and more recently choking down turkey pepperettes, which I can barely stand, and melba toast, which is a highlight compared to the turkey thingies), I didn't really believe I could make this a lifestyle for, well, life.

I asked 'Do you really think I'm going to feed my kids chicken and spinach for lunch everyday?' 'What am I going to do Dee?'

Of course he asked 'Why not?' and told me about how his daughter was raised with all of these healthy foods and she now chose to eat triscuits over chips and a wrap over pizza, while I sat there giving him a 'yeah right' look of disbelief. Although deep down I knew it was true and he was right.

He immediately took my workout book and wrote a title of a recipe book down and handed it back to me. He said 'Go get this book and try it out'.

I read the title and withheld an embarrassing chuckle.

I looked at him and said 'I think I own that book actually'. Though I've never once tried cooking anything out of it.

He sighed and later during my workout finally replied: 'It's just like you to have the answer sitting right in front of you the whole time'. He shook his head as if he didn't want to believe we were still having these conversations.

As you can guess I went home and read through the recommended recipe book all about eating clean. I got it from an aunt whom I am very close with, for my 30th birthday BECAUSE I was making this new lifestyle change ... yeah I never said I was perfect.

Well I decided that if I were to use this material I had a lot of learning to do. Learning how to cook all new foods and learning how to find at least 65% of the ingredients, which I had never heard of before, listed in the recipes. Really I had a decision to make ... did I want to really try and basically relearn how to cook when I feel like I can barely keep up the simple staples of healthy eating while I'm on the run, or will I just limp through the next several weeks of my training to get some half-assed (ha ha) results and then give it all up when the timer tells me I'm allowed to go back to what I know?

You've gotta know that the old me wants to run like heck towards what I know, which will inevitably land me back to where I started probably within a year; addicted to my cookies and living for my next opportunity to 'cheat'.

I tired of 'cheating'. I'm tired of knowing I could do better and not doing better. I am sick of being bloated after a binge and being envious of those who truly know how to eat clean and do it. I want to be on the 'inside' not on the outside always wishing.

Ironically since Dee recommended this book last Monday I have 'cheated' and struggled more than since before I began this adventure. I sort of loosened up my rules and enjoyed a few extra treats. Too many extra treats. I am pretty sure I know why this is ...

Wally and I talked about it and I have been doing more research into this 'clean eating' thing and decided, just as getting a personal trainer was a sort of last ditch effort to gain fitness, embracing this clean eating thing would be a chance for us to over turn yet another stone in our search for a healthier life. We agreed together to give this new way of life a serious try. Seeing as 80% of results are earned through what you eat Wally was convinced that this was a smart move. How could it hurt?

When I wondered out loud to Wally tonight why I ate so bad during the past 4 days (which incidentally would not even have been considered bad at all compared to how we ate in the past), he stated 'Well since Dee mentioned that book and you started considering changing our cooking permanently you probably started thinking about getting in some 'last time' treats'. I think he's right on.

We made the decision firmly today yet began yesterday our quest to try to find some necessary ingredients to help us eat 'clean'. (By the way, I have been eating VERY well the past three months but it's been more of a strict basic menu plan for weight lose and I haven't made the effort to learn how to live this way permanently).

We spent ... a lot of money ... in the past two days on grocery items we never heard of before this, let alone knew what they were. I thought wheat berries were actual fruit, and coconut butter actual butter. I didn't know there could be so many types of 'flakes' or 'flours'. Or that Kefir was not a grain but a refrigerated product.

I am learning a lot.

I have decided to set yet another goal in my fitness journey. This one less to do with numbers and more to do with actions (that will inevitably help with the numbers).

I plan to do my best (as obviously the world around me still turns the way it always does and I will just have to do my best to move with it) to eat 'clean' until my 31st birthday which is February 18th 2011. At which time I have no doubt I will continue on, and in actuality I have no plans on quitting my clean eating. The reason I want to place the date, and specifically that date, is because I feel that that is a measurable amount of time to see how clean eating could really affect and improve our bodies. And that date is the end of celebrating being 30 years old. What a great way to spend my 30th birthday year (yes I know I'm technically in my 31st year but you know what I mean!). The first half learning how to move and physically push my body and the last half learning how to feed my body.

Getting a trainer was a big step for me. Getting physically fit in the way that I have and am, has also been a big step for me. BUT, changing what I know about what goes into my body (I'm really trying to educate myself about the whys and hows and clean eating), would be .... incredible really.

I love exercising, I always have (I won't lie, dying with Dee is a little different) so that hasn't been that much of a challenge to do, however changing my eating has. I've risen to the first challenge of a fairly strict menu for the current term, but now I'm ready for the next step that will hopefully take me into the rest of my life.

The cool part is that I get to do it with everyone watching.

The uncool part is that I get to do it with everyone watching.

I'm sure I'll have an interesting post or two while doing this. You know, seeing as I was ready to put wheat berries in my yogurt.

We'll just have to see.

P.S. Posts on 'The List' are on their way!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A piece of paper

Yesterday was graduation day. Not mine but Wally's.

Well, sort of mine too.

I technically graduate next week but I think there's something about Wally's graduation that means a lot more than my own (perhaps that view will change next week, who knows?)

Unlike many of our friends Wally and I have always planned on attending our graduations. He had several friends who had already gradated from University or other programs before that didn't feel it necessary to be at this most recent ceremony. And of course some that just didn't want to go.

We have spoken many times throughout the past 3-4 years about this day. when others said how they wouldn't be going just to get a piece of paper we would state: 'Are you kidding? Of course we'll be there! We didn't sell our house and uproot our lives to miss out on on the moment of this day.' Even if it was just a 'piece of paper' it represents so much more to us than that.

With that being said Wally nor I geared ourselves up for pomp and circumstance. We looked forward to pictures with parents and the one of him getting his diploma (or at least I did). I also shared with his friends the other night at a BBQ that I wanted one of us together both in graduation gowns (even though we graduate a week a part). We also looked forward to sharing time with his parents over lunch out.

Now that it is over I can say we got all of those moments. Pictures with proud parents, Wally walking across the stage to get 'scarved' (they don't actually give you your diploma or a hat with strings a hangin'). I got several of him in the rather ugly bright red gown. Snuck a few pictures of Wally and his friends. And one of Wally's friends remembered my request for a picture of us in our grad gowns together and he offered up his extra large gown for me to pose in. I did and was so thankful.

All in all the memories we captured we perfect. Boring ceremony with one minute of elation, lots of flashes of the camera and a great lunch with Wally's parents. His dad made a point to mention how scary it must have been for us to 'step out in faith' and do what we did. We appreciated him noticing and enjoyed our 'parent time'.

Both Wally and I thought it was pretty cool that the programs for graduation were all encompassing holding every graduating program and participant's name in the book. We both made the President's Honour Roll, which really only consisted of an asterisk after each of our names. Have to admit, it seemed like a bit of a rip off for all of that hard work it took but there weren't many asterisks presented so we were proud to have our own.

When I got home from work later that evening we sat in our office/guest room and looked at the diploma together.

It has a bright shiny star shaped sticker of achievement (I wonder what they mean exactly, they seem to be necessary for certificates), a few signatures of people we don't really know or care about and tiny letters on the bottom stating 'President's Honour Roll Recipient'. Yes our diploma is indeed just a piece of paper.

However, I don't think I could ever look at our diplomas and just see diplomas.

Instead I see, flashes of memories throughout the past 4 years and maybe beyond...

I remember sitting in a cafe in Quebec with my cousin 4 years ago almost exactly when she (being the young inexperienced gal she is) proposes Wally and I go back to school. Initially I laughed. Then, for the first time in my life, considered it.

I remember coming home from that trip to Quebec (which by the way, was one of the first huge steps I took out of my 'comfort zone' in my adult life - beware! You take one step and it turns into a huge journey!!) and sitting outside on our back step making the proposal of school to Wally (him going). He thought I was crazy. I backed off a little to give him some time.

I remember being in the basement of our house that summer and pouring over college programs, none of which Wally thought he could do (which now seems hilarious), and trying my darndest to convince him that he could and that I was ready to put our hopes of having a family 'on hold' for three more years.

I remember (with the help of pictures) him getting his acceptance letter in the mail. Then his zillion dollar required laptop, then having to send it back because something was wrong with it.

I remember how tough his first semester was for him and how often he wanted to give up and he truly thought we'd made a mistake.

I remember the day he came home telling me of the first friend he made and how much they had in common. Then the day, a few months later, Wally found out his friend's 'other half' named Kerry was a man not a woman, and how we didn't give a rip.

I remember a year after he had applied to college I began to really get the itch to go to school (actually I had the itch the whole time we just thought it was more important for him to go). And how Wally barely batted an eyelash when I brought it up, but instead said 'Why not?' He told me later that in his head he was thinking 'WHAT?! YOU WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL TOO?! ARE YOU FREAKIN' CRAZY?!' He hid it very well and I love him for it.

I remember the first day of school driving my Neon an hour in the winter and getting to my first class by trying my best to recount the directions Wally gave me, so nervous too. I'll never forget seeing the clock that said 8:00AM on the dot and seeing a classroom FULL of nervous adults.

I suppose I could go on all day with what I see when I look at our diplomas. It really is so much more to us than a couple of pieces of paper.

Our diplomas represent so much more than our education at a school. They represent, for us, taking our first steps as a couple completely out of our normal life routine to see if there was anything else out there for us.

And finding out there was.

A whole world.

Never underestimate a piece of paper. Whether it's a diploma, a note from a friend, a drawing from a kid, or something with a few numbers scratched on it.

A piece of paper could change your life.

Or ... remind you that you can change it with one little decision, whatever that decision may be.